PRAIRIE VIEW, TX – Debra L. Lee, Trailblazing Entertainment Executive, to deliver the address to Prairie View A&M University graduates and their families at the fall commencement on Sunday, December 16, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. The ceremony will take place at the Berry Center of Northwest Houston in Cypress, Texas.

According to a press release from the university, Up until May 2018, Lee served as the Chairman & CEO of BET Networks, the leading provider of entertainment for the African-American audience and consumers of Black culture globally.

During her tenure, Lee helmed BET’s reinvigorated approach to corporate philanthropy & authentic programming that lead to hits such as The New Edition Story, Being Mary Jane, The BET Awards, Black Girls Rock!, BET Honors and many more.

In September 2009, Lee managed the launch of Centric, a 24-hour music and entertainment network. Under her guidance, Centric was rebranded in 2014 as the first network designed for Black women. She also oversees the company’s current growth initiatives, including international distribution of the brand in Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, France, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to her being named Chairman and CEO, Lee was President and COO of BET Networks for almost 10 years, during which she guided the company to consistent increases in viewership, revenue, and earnings. She first joined BET as Vice President and General Counsel in 1986 after serving more than five years as an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson, a Washington D.C. based corporate law firm. Prior to that, she served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Barrington Parker of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment and Billboard’s Power 100, Lee’s achievements in her 30+ year career in the industry, as well as recognition as one of this country’s most respected business executives. Lee was honored with the Destinguished Leadership Vanguard Award by the National Cable & Telecommmunications Association and was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.

In February 2017, the GRAMMY Organization recognized Lee with the Salute To Industry Icons Award, on behalf of her major contributions to American music and culture. Lee is currently the first and only woman to receive the distinguished honor.

Lee is a committed philanthropist, holding a position on The Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, serving as President; is a member emeritus of the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age; and sits on the Board of Trustees for the American Film Institute, Brown Universirty’s Center for Slavery & Justive, The Paley Center for Media, and The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for former President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and in 2011 was appointed by President Obama to the White House Management Advisory Board during his tenure. Lee also currently sits on the Board of Directors for corporations like Twitter, Marriot and Washington Gas Light.

Lee earned her Juris doctorate at Harvard Law School, while simultaneously earning a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in Asian politics. In 2014 she was awarded with a Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from Brown University.

PRAIRIE VIEW, TX – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) a grant of $500,000 to support its effort to establish an African-American Studies Initiative which will be housed in its Marvin D. and June Samuel Brailsford College of Arts and Sciences. Inspired by the Mellon Foundation award, an anonymous donor pledged an added $250,000 to help fund this initiative. The generous donation is eligible for a $250,000 university match, bringing the total support for the initiative launch to $1 million.

According to an press release by the university, the project, Enhancing the Humanities at PVAMU Through African-American Studies Program Initiative, is designed to selectively infuse African-American Studies content throughout the university’s liberal art offerings. The initial concept for the program was conceived when Prairie View President Ruth J. Simmons called for the creation of an African-American Studies program in her first campus — wide address. Having directed Afro American Studies at Princeton and Chaired the African-American Studies Department Visiting Committee at Harvard, President Simmons expressed surprise and disappointment that, given the University’s cultural legacy, it did not have a formal program in African-American Studies.

The Enhancing the Humanities at PVAMU through an African-­‐American Studies Program Initiative

The primary intent of the proposed program is to infuse PVAMU’s STEM-focused university with curricular content and programming that emphasizes the centrality and benefit of the Humanities and Social Sciences in undergraduate education. Funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, along with additional gifts and donations, will allow faculty to revise and expand existing courses in the PVAMU Core Curriculum, in addition to developing new courses within and across the disciplines, to form and propose an African American Studies Program (AAS).

The initiative will provide an interdisciplinary study of the experiences of people of African descent in America and abroad. Scholarly activities will provide students, faculty and the PVAMU community with a fundamental understanding of the social economic, cultural and historical issues framing the contribution of African-American communities in America.

To ensure the success of the initiative, highly respected scholars will work with a select cohort of PVAMU faculty to act as advisors, assist in establishing program priorities, review core courses themes and hold public lectures and workshops reflecting their respective fields in African-American Studies.

“By strategically embedding African-American theme, based courses within the core curriculum, all students will have an opportunity to select courses that expand their academic interests while enhancing their engagement in the humanities,” explained James Palmer, interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.

Potential consultants include:

Melanye Price, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, (Lead Consultant, PVAMU Alumna);

Henry Louis Gates Jr, Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and American Research at Harvard University;

Paula J. Giddings, Elizabeth  A. Woodson 1922 Professor Emerita at Smith College;

Nell Irvin Painter, Edward Professor of American History Emerita at Princeton University;

W.G. Selassie l, Ralph Bunche Associate Professor of U.S. History and African American Studies at Los Angeles City College; and

Cornel West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Council of Presidents has announced that Dr. Charles McClelland will become the sixth SWAC Commissioner in league history since the conference began in 1920.

According to an official press release, McClelland has served the past 17 plus years at the helm of two SWAC member institutions – Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics at Texas Southern University since April of 2008 and the prior seven years as Athletics Director at Prairie View A&M University. McClelland will succeed the role from Edgar Grant, who has served the role of Interim Commissioner since December 31, 2017.

Chairman of the Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Dr. Andrew Hugine, thanked Mr. Grant for his dutiful and steady leadership during the transition period. He further stated that the Council is looking forward to working with Mr. McClelland as SWAC charts a new course in athletic and scholarly excellence for the conference.

Among the job duties entailed, the Commissioner shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Conference and report to the Conference Council of Presidents & Chancellors of the member institutions. The Commissioner will work with the Council, Athletic Directors, and other key athletics administration staff of each member institution to create initiatives and strategies designed to achieve the mission and vision of the Conference.

“As a young person growing up in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, it’s a good feeling to be named commissioner,” said Dr. McClelland. “To have an opportunity to lead this conference in this era is overwhelming. I’ve been at Texas Southern University for 10 years and met a lot of friends. TSU is like family. I’m sad to close that chapter, but I’m excited to open a new one.”

A native of Jackson, Miss., Dr. McClelland earned his doctoral degree in higher education administration at Texas A&M University in 2001. A 1993 graduate of Prairie View A&M University, McClelland earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and in 1997 received an MBA from Prairie View.

McClelland’s extra-curricular affiliations include membership in the Prairie View A&M University National Alumni Association, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Phi Beta Lambda and the National Association of Black Accountants.

McClelland is a former member of the NCAA Leadership/Management Council. One of the highest ranking councils in the NCAA, the Leadership/Management Council is responsible for establishing direct general policy, the strategic plan for the NCAA and advises the board of directors on administrative bylaws and regulations.

He is also a past president of the Houston Touchdown Club and has served on the board of directors. Previously, McClellland served as chairman of the SWAC Council of Athletics Directors, a position he had held for 10 years.

McClelland is married to Ashlee McClelland and is the father of two sons, Cainan and Ashton and one daughter, Cooper.

Six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) has been named to participate in the Intel HBCU Grant Program. Intel has announced its three-year, $4.5 million program to encourage students to remain in STEM pathways at six historically black colleges and universities.

According to Intel, shaping a more diverse technology requires that we rethink our sources of talent and broaden our recruiting pipeline to access available diverse talent. As part of their commitment this program was introduce.  The participating HBCUs include Florida A&M University, Morgan State University, Howard University, Prairie View A&M University, North Carolina A&T State University and Tuskegee University.

As part of the program, $3.9 million will be awarded directly to the HBCUs and $600,000 will be used for workshops and activities that bring HBCUs and the technology industry together to ensure students are prepared with the relevant skills to enter the tech workforce.

The three-year Intel HBCU Grant Program supports multiyear investments in computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering programs, curriculum and labs, and has three components:

  • Scholarships: Two-year scholarships for students from college juniors to Ph.D. – level students with majors in computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering.
  • Student Experience: Providing computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering students with opportunities to participate in labs, workshops and research experiences.
  • Tech Industry Workshops: Workshops hosted by Intel that brings together HBCUs and the technology industry to equip students with the relevant skills to succeed in the technology sector.

The Intel HBCU Grant Program resulted from a collaboration between Intel and the HBCUs to address the historic gap in HBCU students pursuing STEM degrees. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that African-American students are more likely to switch out of STEM majors within their first year of college and only 11 percent of bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields are conferred to African-American students.

The Intel HBCU Grant Program is part of Intel’s $300 million Diversity in Technology initiative, which supports Intel’s bold goal of reaching full representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the U.S. workforce by 2020. In support of this goal, beginning in 2015, Intel increased the number of schools at which Intel recruit by 60 percent year over year. Intel also encourage more women and underrepresented minorities to enter and succeed in tech through programs and investments with organizations that include the National GEM Consortium, Georgia Tech, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, CODE2040, and Oakland Unified School District, among others.

Following the success of Intel’s other STEM pathway programs and being named a 2016 Top Supporter of HBCU Engineering Schools by US Black Engineer and Information Technology Magazine, Intel is excited to kick off their HBCU Grant Program and nurture the next generation of diverse talent that will lead us into the future.

To learn more about Intel’s diversity and inclusion efforts, visit www.intel.com/diversity as well as Intel’s 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report.